Review: 'Dunkirk' re-visions war movie genre
Just when we thought we've seen all the best war films - Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse Now, here comes Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan's time-bending film that almost throws every established convention in the genre.
At the onset, viewers would feel vulnerable as the hundreds of thousands of British soldiers waiting for a ride home at the enemy's coastline. Nolan's sound design was on point. The loud sound of gunshots was enough to make viewers feel uneasy without even seeing where the bullets were coming from. We won't see any of the enemy forces for most of the film. The lack of dialogue brought a sense of panic, as soldiers tried to reach the beach for survival.
Nolan's use of geography (land, sea, air) and time frames (a week, a day and an hour) as narrative device was rewarding as all eventually mashed up to tell a coherent story. A documentary would have just told this historic event - 400,000 British soldiers trying to get home - linearly. But Nolan was making a movie. He knew he had to tell a story masterfully.
But while it is a war movie, Dunkirk was almost bloodless. It had no violence porn, usually meant to trigger the audience to cringe and cover their eyes. Because of this, Dunkirk is more genuine in telling a story of survival, rather than deceiving the audience's emotions with the gory spectacle in previous war films.